Previously published on My Grandma's Place May 13, 2017
“Guess what, Nan? We’re coming to stay at your place..It’s so exciting !”
“I know, I know. I can hardly wait.”
Following hard on the heels of the pleasure and excitement I felt at my granddaughter’s words was the thought, ‘How am I going to make this visit special?’ ‘What can I do that will create lasting memories?’
(Yep… affiliate links are included which means that, at no additional cost to you, if you buy through me I get some coffee money …though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
If, like me, you’ve gone with the whole down-sizing your home you might not have too much space for full-on, energetic kids. Don’t panic! Regardless of the size of your home, or whether it sits on acres of land or has a postage-sized patio, you can still plan non-stop adventures and fun for your pint-sized visitors.
Choose any of the suggestions below to create a shared time with your grandkids that everyone will long remember. Simple activities shared together can become real ‘moments that matter’ in the memories of your grandkids.
When do your grandkids plan to arrive?
Are they going to stay for just one night or more?
Will they arrive morning or afternoon?
No matter how long they plan to stay, you'll find plenty of fun ideas to keep them busy and happy.
So, let's begin with some morning activities.
After dinner fun
The fun doesn’t have to stop just because it’s getting dark and almost time for bed. Check out these ideas:
Where are they going to sleep?
If you have a spare bedroom with sufficient beds, that’s great. If not, inflatable mattresses on the floor can be lots of fun. Add plenty of soft pillows and covers.
A small tent is another option and you can position it inside or on your patio or decking. I’ve found that most kids creep back inside after about an hour of outdoor camping so be prepared.
Don’t feel that you have to attempt everything on the list. Choose those suggestions that appeal to you or your grandkids.
Although these are simple ideas that don’t take too much preparation or planning, you’ll find that they are ‘moments that matter.’ Your grandkids will talk about this time with you often and with enjoyment. And I hope you’ll enjoy their visit, too.
Oh.. and don't forget to take photos!
A free checklist is available to download below…
Your checklist to preparing a wonderful sleepover. Just click on the image to download,.
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This article was first posted earlier: 30/10/2014
The first thing my grandsons do once they leap from the car is check the letterbox; although these days, there's very little to be found there other than advertising leaflets. But there's something exciting about opening the letterbox and peeking inside that never seems to dim.
Snail mail for kids
Regardless of age, finding something in the letterbox personally addressed is a wonderful way to connect with your grandchildren and build memories. Yes, email is faster with little expense, but snail mail has its own appeal.
Continuing a tradition
My father used to send regular notes and cards to my children when they were young and they would dance around with excitement.
He'd often add little pen-drawn illustrations on the envelopes and include cryptic addressee titles along with the formal address. We'd frequently find missives addressed to 'The Moby Dick fisherman' (after my son caught his first fish) or perhaps 'Australia's best chef' (my daughter had baked a cake), and other interesting titles.
The letters created plenty of comment and discussion with our postman. too.
Create your own snail mail fun with your kids or grandkids.
So now, as a grandma, I try to send my own whimsical notes and letters to my grandchildren.
When I visit with them, they often drag out the old letters or cards I've sent them and ask me to read the inside messages to them again. They really do treasure those simple letters I post to them.
Sometimes, I try to slip some stickers inside the envelope as an extra highlight. The letters are more highly anticipated than ever by my oldest grand-daughter since she's taken up philately. You can find plenty of resources for kids for stamp collecting. You can even create and order your own stamps. How much fun would that create for your grandkids to find their own photo on the stamp?
Even if you don't want to go to those lengths you can decorate the envelopes a bit.
I try and use the most beautiful stamps when I post cards to Rachael. And stationery packs for kids usually include some wonderful envelopes.. like the ones listed below. You can find them on the AtGrandma'sPlace online store.
Get your copy of these exciting stationery packs for kids
Each kit contains 3 different styles of stationery: a page for those kids who cannot write sentences yet. They can draw something special and then write their name at the bottom; there is a page designed with a small number of lines for kids who are learning to write but might be overwhelmed by a lot of lines to complete; and there is a full page of lines for writing but still some fun characters on the stationery page.
There are some fun cards. There are some monster lined envelopes. And there are some Monster Mail Munchers that can be slipped onto the top or corner of a page of stationery or even a book as a bookmark. The kits can be downloaded or ordered as a complete kit that comes in a plastic kit with some additional fun items- stickers and pencils.
So... what do you need to create exciting letters that will keep your grandkids eagerly watching for mail?
* fun cards and stationery.You can buy some or download and print your own. Check out more examples here.
* Try embellishing the envelopes with quirky designs or images or use stickers. They can be quite simple and your grandchildren will still love them.
* Some stickers are also great to include in your letters or vouchers that your grandkids would enjoy using.
* Be creative in how you write your messages. It doesn't have to be a long note but make it relevant. Send a card when you know they've had a rough week or been sick. Send a funny card when they've done something special or perhaps they're worried about something at school. They will love knowing that you've been thinking of them.
BONUS... make your own letterbox.
Download the template from TinyMe. Print and send the pieces to your grandkids or set it up ready for their next visit!
Download, print and create your own mailbox. Set it up ready for their them and watch their reactions.
Pop some letters in the letterbox for them to find when they arrive. And, you could prepare some stationery for them to use and then post in the letterbox for themselves. You'll also find full instructions for creating this set at TinyMe.
Enjoy yourself with these great resources and build some memories with your grandkids.
I was looking through our family photos recently... Sigh.. Where did the years go? How did our kids grow up so quickly? Those were fun times and I'm so glad we took time for family outings, adventures and moments that matter. We built unforgettable memories into our lives. But I noticed that, almost without fail, we finished our adventures with ice-cream.
(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ... though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
Sure, it was messy.
I loved and laughed at the photos of our kids standing with ice-cream dripping to the elbow or the ones of the scoop of ice-cream spattered on the ground. Yes.. you're right. Not so much fun- and the dismay on the kids' faces was tragic.. but humorous, too.
We all love ice-cream but I've noticed that, with so many on restrictive diets or watching their weight, we haven't been enjoying ice-cream as we used to. The good news is that ice-cream has become healthy! Yes, truly!
And sure.. you may have noticed a growing number of healthy choice ice-creams in the supermarkets but it's even better to make your own. And it means that you can include your favourite flavours, and avoid anything that is a health issue for you and your family.
Take gluten for instance. I'd almost given up on ice-cream. It's included in so many commercially produced ice-cream and I can't handle gluten. But there are wonderful recipes available now that do not included gluten..or dairy. And the recipes are soooo easy.
So.... how do you begin to make your own healthy ice-creams?
Start with frozen fruit.
Strawberries, blueberries, peaches, and banana make great frozen fruit choices when you’re making a healthy smooth ice-cream. Put them in your blender along with a little nut milk or coconut cream. Alternatively, use a bit of coconut yogurt and either enough ripe fruit to sweeten the smoothie or a little natural sweetener like agave, honey, or maple syrup. Blend it all up, going light on the nut milk and adding just enough to get the consistency you like.
Use a recipe book or create your own favourite natural ice-cream recipes
Frozen banana blended with milk and a little vanilla extract tastes and feels very much like vanilla ice cream. It’s a great base for any ice-cream or even a thick shake. Add some other frozen fruits like strawberry, peaches, and even pineapple for a delicious treat.
Of course you don’t have to stick to only fruit. Avocado is a surprisingly tasty and nutritious addition to any ice-cream. It works well with organic cacao powder and, with a bit of natural sweeter, will give you that creamy, smooth flavour and texture.
Don't stop there... add other dairy-free ingredients.
Adding peanut butter also gives a lot of body and a smooth texture to your ice-cream. If you like a good peanut butter chocolate ice-cream, use the suggestions above, but add a spoon of peanut butter to the mix before you blend it all up. Chopped nuts add texture and a lovely flavour or you might like to stir through gluten-free biscuits, ginger, vanilla or even chocolate chip, broken into small pieces. Margie Broadhead creates a gluten-free cookie dough and adds it to a healthy peanut butter ice-cream in her book, Nice Cream. Mmmm... delicious!
Ice is another great addition to any ice-cream that will thicken it up and give it that ice cream feel without any added calories. Play around with how much ice you add to your blender, and make sure you have a blender that can handle grinding down and blending in ice cubes. Go easy on the liquids and keep blending. For a thick, creamy ice-cream, you need a lot less liquid than you may think.
Pour it into your ice-cream tub and refreeze. Or you might like to pour the ice-cream into individual moulds for the kids. Above all, have fun, blend away, and create some yummy frozen treats.
Oh... and remember to take the ice-cream from the freezer about 20 minutes before you need it so that it's easy to scoop out and serve.
Now if you'd like a bit of added help, check out the videos below.
You'll find more ideas and step by step instructions in this Best Collection: Natural Ice-creams and How to Make Them.
I hope you enjoy them.... and try them yourself. You'll find that they are incredibly easy.. and incredibly delicious.
Disclosure: At Grandma's Place is committed to high standards of integrity and quality. I do not promote any brand I do not believe meets these standards, and I only promote brands I would purchase myself.
If I don't love it, and don't think you'll love it, it won't appear on my blog.
(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ... though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
The door slammed open and my young grandson hurtled over to his mum, slid to a stop and then eagerly bounced from one foot to the other. His little feet dripped small puddles on the floor, his hair was wet and mud splatters decorated his shirt and his cheek. He looked very excited, very wet, and very impatient and I struggled to contain my laughter.
"Mum! Mum! Could you please roll up my toe sleeves? Quick, quick!"
Really? Toe sleeves? It's priceless. Where do they come up with these expressions?
These sorts of family moments are magic. They're unexpected. If you blink, you'll miss them. And they add fun and delight to a mother's exhausting day.
But they're over so quickly and often forgotten within the whirlwind of daily life. And, as you collapse on the lounge in the evening, it's the tiring, mundane issues that tend to linger in the thoughts rather than the small moments that matter... unless you spend a bit of time with a journal.
I'm here to tell you that developing a daily journaling habit is truly worthwhile.
But I know what your'e thinking... 'I can't write. I'm too tired to add that to my daily to-do list. I don't know what to write about. What's the point?'
Well.... let me answer just a few of those concerns. :)
Five Reasons to Keep a Gratitude Journal
I expect you've often been told to be thankful for what you have when something awful happens. I know.. it sounds trite. But research has shown that being thankful actually is a beneficial habit. Keeping a gratitude journal is an increasingly popular tool used by those seeking to improve themselves.
So, here are five ways that keeping a gratitude journal will improve your focus and your attitude to daily living:
1. Changing Thought Patterns
Studies have shown a strong mind-body connection. When we are feeling stressed, anxious or another negative emotion it can have a negative effect on our physical health. By considering those things, events or people you are thankful for you are creating positive thoughts and feelings which will help reduce stress levels. It will also remind you that whatever happens to you there is always something for which you'll feel grateful.
Your commitment to your gratitude journal refocuses your mind on positive events, conversations and relationships. This enables you to see more than just those negative ones that tend to fill your mind and dominate your thoughts when they happen.
Another way your thought patterns will change is that you will find that you start pushing boundaries and removing limiting beliefs. This will happen as you not only keep your gratitude journal but also review it. You will find that your mind opens to new possibilities and you gain in self-confidence and knowledge.
2. Improve Your Health
The fact that there is a mind-body connection means that by focusing on positive thoughts and feelings in your gratitude journal you are helping to improve your physical and mental health. Studies have shown that regular gratitude journaling can:
3. Create Optimism
Some days it's just too hard to see the wood for the trees. You'll find yourself focusing on something that has upset you and that troublesome thought will nag away at you constantly. Taking some time to sit quietly and think about something you are grateful for will help reduce the negative thoughts and feelings and replace them with positive ones.
4. Improved Sleep
Regardless of whether you feel the need for eight hours sleep each night your body and mind do require a regular amount of sleep each night for optimal mental and physical health. Keeping a gratitude journal is fun, calming and a positive activity that promotes happy thoughts and feelings. By replacing worry and stress, you can sleep more peacefully and have happier dreams.
5. It's Fun
Keeping a gratitude journal should be a fun, enjoyable experience; something you look forward to. It doesn't matter whether you use a plain notebook or a really fancy one, you can jazz it up by using different colored pens or pencils, or even decorating the pages.
To begin with, why not grab yourself a beautiful pen for your work? Along with a renewed interest in al things retro has been a trend towards using a fountain pen for writing. Many consider that using a fountain pen actually improves their penmanship.There are online courses that teach calligraphy and lettering skills that you might like to consider, too. They're a lot of fun!
Of course, there are plenty of journal apps that you might like to consider. They are convenient and have the advantage of being able to include a photo/s of your day's activities. But although I've tried, and loved, using a journal app on my device I still prefer using pen and paper for my journaling. It seems to help me relax and reflect on my day.
Use a loose-leaf binder
I love using a simple loose-leaf binder for my journaling. My journal is included in my life planner and I use a folder divider to keep the journaling pages separate. It's always open as I work through my day and, with just a quick flick of a few pages, I can jot down a note or perhaps add a quirky little comment from one of my grandkids that I don't want to forget. Then I can complete the day's journal when I relax in the evening.
Don't feel pressured to write huge screeds of content for your daily journal, either. If you just manage a few lines, or a paragraph, that's fine.
Amazing journal kit
With that in mind, I've created an ongoing monthly pack that is inexpensive, downloadable for instant access, and provides creative inspiration for your daily journal. You can find more information about it below...
Journal kits are available monthly and include:
* Themed quote poster. Full colour print with quote to print, frame and display
* Calendar for the month to add special dates and highlights of the month
* Daily journal prompts as inspiration for your journaling
* Fun words to use in your journal entries during the month
* Journal pages to print multiple copies for your daily journal (and colour if you wish)
If you want to create a positive change in yourself and your life, then keeping a gratitude journal may just be the tool you are looking for. It's cheap, easy and very beneficial to your physical and mental health.
Disclosure: At Grandma's Place is committed to high standards of integrity and quality. I do not promote any brand I do not believe meets these standards, and I only promote brands I would purchase myself. If I don't love it, and don't think you'll love it, it won't appear on my blog.
Family life is so unpredictable, isn't it?
My granddaughters were visiting for the week and we'd enjoyed a great day at the beach. Dinner plates were piled in the sink and I'd just finished reading the next exciting chapter of The Pet that Never Was. Koti had headed to the bathroom for the final time for the evening, I hoped, when I heard her frightened call..
I raced to the bathroom and found her crouched on the floor, a fountain of water spouting skywards from the tap. There were some frantic moments, let me tell you, as we tried to stem the flood.
When, finally, calm was restored and I settled the girls again for bed Koti was still stressed and upset.
"It was all my fault, Nannie," she sobbed.
"That's not true, honey. It could have happened to anyone."
"Yes, but it happened to me!" I talked with her for some time and told her I was very proud of her.
I reminded her of how calm and helpful she had been. But she was still upset.
So... I smiled and told her how thankful I was that she had run so fast to get Jacob, her cousin. He had arrived like a hurricane with a big armload of towels and had jumped in to help. I laughed and reminded her how the water had sprayed up to the ceiling and then splashed on his head. He had looked so surprised.... and so wet! She smiled, too. And then she mentioned something else that had happened.. something that was funny now, in retrospect. Soon she relaxed and we were laughing and talking about our wet adventure.
The importance of laughter
'Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on.' - Bob Newhart
Laughter has the ability to brighten your mood, lower your blood pressure, reduce stress levels, boost your immune system and so much more. Plus, laughter causes your brain to produce more endorphins, which are neuro-transmitters that ease pain.
Certainly, one of God's most precious gifts is the gift of laughter.
'A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.'– Proverbs 17:22, NIV
Dr Caroline Leaf states, 'Having fun is one of the most powerful antidotes to stress you will ever find. And it's free.'
And you can embrace the gift of laughter with your family when you…
Watch funny videos.
Use a website like YouTube or GodTube to find funny videos. You may want to look up search phrases like ‘babies laughing’ or ‘puppies playing’.
If you like comedians, look up Ken Davis, Tim Hawkins or Bob Smiley. These are Christian comedians that keep their routines clean and family-friendly.
Put on a funny song and dance.
Don’t be afraid to do your biggest, silliest dance. Your kids will love to join you.
Some songs that will make you want to dance along include Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake, Happy by Pharrell Williams, Something Just Like This by The Chainsmokers & Coldplay.
Let your inner kid out.
Do something that reminds you of being a kid. Run through a sprinkler, splash in a puddle, jump in a pile of leaves, or build a snowman. And your own kids will love doing it with you!
Create some amazing family memories. Enjoy some simple moments that matter. Include laughter in your daily life and make it a family priority.
Do you know how to create a regular storybook time with your kids or grandkids that will have them demanding more?
Reading provides so many more benefits than just a time-filler before bed. And it can be so much fun if you do it right! Not only will you help create wonderful family memories, your kids will develop a delight of books and reading. But there are plenty of other benefits, too.
So... why is it important to read to kids?
You may think it's just something that you do at bedtime when your kids are small. Or maybe, you're thinking that it's something that teachers will do with your children so you can just forget about this activity as your kids get older.
Reading to your kids, at any age, has so many benefits; in fact, reading will help children:
And, don't stop as your children grow. It's still important and something they will continue to enjoy as you share books, reading and adventures with them. You'd be surprised how a regular reading time creates one of those amazing 'moments that matter' activities that your kids or grandkids will remember and treasure.
But you may be worried about how to do this storybook time, or how to make it interesting for them.?
How can I improve my reading aloud to my kids?
Let's run through some simple ideas as we look at Fearless, by Colin Thompson; a wonderful book for kids 4 years and up. You can find a small intro clip for Fearless below.
Choose a good book. In this case, it's Fearless; but find something that will appeal to the age and interests of your kids.It should be fun, and you should enjoy it. Remember, if you're enjoying it, so will your kids. Books are usually displayed in libraries or bookstores according to age groups so that will help with selecting something suitable.
Read it through a few times before you read aloud to your kids. If you're planning to do some activities after reading, prepare your resources beforehand. The book, Fearless, deals with emotions and in particular, fear. Print off the free emotions cards below to use during and after your reading time.
Make sure everyone is comfortable. You might decide to set up a special reading area, and that's great, but it's not essential. You can read on the lounge, on the bed, toss some beanbags on the floor and read there... whatever works for you. If you're reading to little ones, they need to see the book. They will probably want to sit on your lap or lean against you. Remember, as they watch you read the book, they are learning important aspects of reading: books are read from left to right, the printed words correlate to spoken words, pictures provide context clues and more.
Display the cover of your book and discuss what the kids think it might be about.
Read the book more slowly than you would normally speak. Add expression as you read: lower your volume for scary parts or when the character is being careful, whisper when a character is trying to hide, smile while you're reading fun parts (listeners will hear it in your voice), use different voices for different characters etc.
Gauge the content you read for the listeners. In other words, you can leave things out. The book, Fearless, has a couple of pages with a lot of text. For smaller children, I'd probably skip some of the sentences and just read the important ones.
You can stop and ask questions while you're reading if you think something needs clarification. For instance, you might ask, "How do you know that Fearless was happy?" "What was making Fearless scared?"
You'll probably find that you'll be asked to read it again, as soon as you finish. That's fine! But first, spread out the emotions cards and talk about the different feelings. Ask your kids about times when they have felt sad, happy or scared.
Now this time, as you read the story of Fearless, ask your kids to locate and hold up the emotion pictures that show how Fearless or the family might have been feeling. (You can reuse this activity and cads for other books, too.)
Now, ask if any of your kids would like to read the story. Don't worry if they can't read, yet. Show the pictures and they can tell you what was happening in the story. It will be a simple paraphrase, but that's fine. It's a great way to develop a grasp of story sequencing.
Finish with a game of memory with the emotions cards.
On their own
The book, Fearless, also deals with the importance of names. Fearless seems to be an inappropriate name at the start of the story but he lives up to his name at the end... sort of.
Use this book to talk about names, and why each child was given their particular name and what it means. There are plenty of activities listed below that encourage kids to learn about names, letters and how to write their own name. Choose a couple of these activities for your kids to work on themselves.
So now, you're a pro. You have the skills to create wonderful moments that matter at bedtime or whenever you choose to schedule regular reading time with kids. And... you'll be setting up your kids for a life-long love of reading and learning. Jacqueline Kennedy once commented: 'There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all.'
You also might like to download the FREE GUIDE- Early Reader Essentials from ReadBrightly.
For more creative family ideas, get your free access to At Grandma's Place library below.
Anne specialises in helping you create moments that matter for you and your family.
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Life as a grandma.. it's no 'quiet, restful days in the rocking-chair'. It's filled with activity, excitement and lots of family fun. Please share it with me.